Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why I'm Irritated by that Foreign Actress who Tried but Failed to Mimic How Filipinos Speak in English

You have probably watched her poor imitation of how we Filipinos speak in English. For the uninformed, in a tv show, she mimicked how an American, an Englishman and a Filipino would ask for a glass of water using the English language. She dwelt on the pronunciation, and the mispronunciation of the Filipinos and the two hosts laughed their hearts out, thinking it was the best comedy act ever.

I won't even mention her name, and I won't even mention where she hails from. Her name's not even worth mentioning. All I know is that I don't watch telenovelas made from her place. I don't really hate her, I am just plain irritated. Let me tick off my reasons:

First, it was a pathetic imitation. It was not even close to how a lot of us speak in English. If she was really a good actress, she would have done better. But no, it was a poor act. She should get lessons from our talented actors/actresses in comedy bars.

Second, she couldn't even do the American accent perfectly! It was not even amazing and she mixed up her British and American pronunciation. And she thinks she's so good?

Third, she didn't sound like a Filipino at all. It was more like from another Asian country, and I won't say which one or why.

Fourth, if she thinks that we sound funny, didn't she realize that quite a number of her fellowmen do not even know how to speak in English or even understand it. We don't really need tutors for us to understand and speak simple English. If she was laughing at us, she was laughing more at her fellowmen!

This is what irritates me most - I am not sure if it was the host who told her mimic how the Filipino teacher speaks in English. For someone who believes that the noblest profession of all is teaching, an attack or even an attempt to make fun of a teacher is really an attack below the belt. And to think that a lot of Filipino teachers go out of their way to impart to them our English skills which, compared with other non-native English speaking countries, is quite commendable! Her laugh after her "smart" joke really grates on my nerves!

A lot of Filipinos who saw the clip would probably be up over the wall fuming over her mimicry of us. But in introspection, we even do that kind of insulting imitation to out fellow Cebuanos, Ilonggos, Ilocanos and all those non-native speakers of Tagalog/Filipino. We laugh at their mispronunciation of the "e" sound which sounds like an "ee" and of the "i" sound which becomes "e" and so on. We outcast those who are promdi-sounding (sounding from the provinces) and who have a distinct punto (accent). But we are much affected if someone from another country tries to copy how we talk.

Not all of us do speak impeccable English, whether in an American or English accent. Not all of us could even speak it, hell, there still are Filipinos who could not even speak in Filipino! So why are we really affected as if our reputation was besmirched?

Maybe it's because we have this notion that it is better to be insulted by one of your own, than be insulted by another who is not really from your place. There really is a different tie that binds us Filipinos from the rest of the Filipinos all over the world. In other words, "maigi nang mapula ng kapwa Pilipino, kesa ng taga-ibang lahi."

For some of us, this may probably be the reason for the negative reaction. As we often say,
"blad is tiker dan water."

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